Happy is as Happy Does

Finding the “Happy Place” with Extracurriculars for Chicago Youth

by Casey Fitzner, Busy Mom of 3 Boys

As parents, we are all looking to have our child involved in activities where they can learn, grow and hopefully excel. Some kids are naturally athletic. Some kids excel academically on their own. Some kids are naturally social and have an easy time adjusting to taking direction from adults outside the immediate family and the teacher that they see on a daily basis.  So what if your child is different? What if you haven’t found their “thing” they are into?  We sign our kids up at an early age to see where they will have fun, come out of their shell, make friends beyond the block we live on and the kids in their class.  Park district classes, after school programs that are offered at a high cost by the school, scouts, etc., are sometimes not accessible or frankly, keeping my kids engaged. I strongly believe that these are great options.  But not for all kids.

I have to preface this story by saying that both my boys lacked confidence in their baseball skill. Both my boys had limited experience being dropped off, engaging in the class and relying on a coach to lead them through the schedule of the day.  They knew 2 other kids and they knew Coach Stringer. I knew they felt intimidated by seeing the older kids working in the battings nets and working out at the creek.  I knew they were hoping I’d stick around to make sure they were ok. Well...guess what? I didn’t….and...THEY WERE OK. Better than ok, they were great.

Lessons that my kids have shared with me that they have learned from camps and clinics at Chicago Mudcat Sport & Social Club include the following:

    “Don’t say you can’t, because you can and WILL!”


    “Pay attention”

    “Learn to master the jump rope!”

    “Be responsible for your own things, clean up after yourself” (my personal fave)

    “Be patient because it takes a lot to learn a new skill”

    “You need to be having FUN!”

    “We are all here to work together and get better…”

They also know that Coach Stringer (he’s amazingly creative in this department)  will give you an awesome nickname. One that will likely STICK, and that make each kid feel super cool


The message I’d like to share is this: My kids may never become the stud players that are travelling around winning tournaments! They may not even continue baseball beyond grade school. But, they have learned that they can discover and TRY something new, practice makes perfect, that you CAN fit in with the right group at “The Creek”, and the Coaches and Instructors can be trusted to have your back. My kids look forward to baseball  lessons and camps over this winter and will be looking forward to marching the spring with the Mudcats in the Northwest Side Irish Parade and doing service work with the Mudcat crew when the opportunity arises.  It’s a CLUB.  And they get to be a part of it.